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What if I don’t want
to write about Alaska?

“As much as we value our local literature and technical writing, we also know that modern Alaskans have a lot to say on other subjects. … The desire to explore other in fiction shouldn’t make us hesitate.”

— Justin Oldham, author of Politics and Patriotism:
The Fisk Conspiracy

By Justin Oldham

It has been said that you should write what you know. Alaska’s rich history does inspire many local authors to take up their pens and keyboards. A casual Internet search will reveal hundreds of books now in print with Alaskan . Like the people who live here, many of these books are inspiring.

Armed with this knowledge, some local writers feel like they must write about something tied in to an Alaskan theme. I’m glad to say that this isn’t true. We are now starting to see local authors publish on non-Alaskan subjects. In late 2004, I published my first novel, which revolved around Washington, D.C., corruption and politics.

The market for Alaskan has grown considerably in the last decade. National and international interest in our state has continued to rise as people from around the world discover Alaska and its literary treasures.

Yet, each new generation of authors who calls Alaska its home continues to push the limits of publishing technology and geographical bias. Now, more than ever, Alaskans write what they want when they want.

As much as we value our local literature and technical writing, we also know that modern Alaskans have a lot to say on other subjects. We are well-read and well-traveled, so it’s only natural that we’d want to incorporate what we’ve learned into what we write. The desire to explore other in fiction shouldn’t make us hesitate. The drive to dig for the facts and write nonfiction that involves people, places, and things outside Alaska shouldn’t stop us, either.

Part of my notoriety comes from the fact that I did not write “Alaskan.” Politics & Patriotism: The Fisk Conspiracy was the first thing I wanted to write, so I did. I still had the same problems everyone else does when shopping for an agent or a publisher. In that respect, I am no different than any other Alaskan author. When I chose to self-publish, I did so for the same reasons that so many other Alaskan authors do.

I get some good-natured ribbing about my “un-Alaskan” , but I take it for what it is. From Anchorage to Fairbanks and beyond, hundreds of Alaskan writers worry about how their work will be received if they publish on subjects that don’t relate to the great state we live in. From my own experience, I know that you have nothing to fear.

About Justin Oldham
Justin Oldham is a legally blind freelance writer who lives in Anchorage, Alaska. He is currently working on the sequel to The Fisk Conspiracy. Visit him on the Web at


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Offering Web sites, tips & tools for Alaska writers

AlaskaWriter member sites:
>> Alaska Press Club
>> Alaska Professional Communicators (formerly Alaska Press Women)
>> Alaska Romance Writers of America
>> Alaska Writers Guild
>> Alaska Writers Workshop
>> Barbara Brown
>> Melissa DeVaughn
>> Kathy Day Public Relations
>> Sandi Gerjevic
>> Anne Hanley
>> Linda Herr - The Mess Arrester-SM
>> Marybeth Holleman
>> Heather Lende
>> Nancy Lord
>> Rose Marie Mayer
>> Jim Misko
>> Elise Sereni Patkotak - Precious Cargo Ltd.
>> Rupert Pratt
>> Marguerite Reiss (Kern)
>> Andromeda Romano-Lax
>> Sonya Senkowsky - AlaskaWriter LLC
>> Bill Sherwonit
>> Sandi Sumner
>> Lesley Thomas
>> Sherry Tomlinson

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Photos of Sonya Senkowsky © 2004 David Jensen / David Jensen Photography.

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